Suspending parliament “goes against everything those men who waded onto those beaches fought & died for – and I will not have it”.
Matt Hancock, health secretary
“The idea of leaving the EU to take back more control into parliament and to consider the idea of closing parliament to do that is the most extraordinary idea I’ve ever heard”.
Amber Rudd, work and pensions secretary
“You don’t deliver democracy by trashing democracy – you can’t just shut down parliament”.
Sajid Javid, chancellor of the exchequer
Suspending parliament was an “archaic manoeuvre”.
Liz Truss, international trade secretary
“I think it will be wrong for many reasons. I think it would not be true to the best traditions of British democracy”.
Michael Gove, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
“You cannot say you are going to take back control … and then go: ‘Oh, by the way, we are just going to shut parliament down for a couple of months, so we are just going to drift out on a no deal’”
Nicky Morgan, culture secretary
“I don’t believe it would happen.”
Andrea Leadsom, business secretary
16 thoughts on “Off to Whitehall to join the protests, along with all these good people…”
It is completely wrong for Boris to have done this. It is not given to single people, no matter what their job, to go against the established system as some sort of trick. I fervently hope it fails.
Having said that, we need a new system. The classic separation of powers is into three distinct sections – the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive. This is the balance. As with Rock-Paper-Scissors, each is subject to at least one of the others. The judiciary has not become blurred in this situation, but the other two have. Parliament, the legislature, is trying to be the executive. It has that power, but increasingly over the last few decades it has decided to use it. In my opinion, this is a serious mistake.
The right of parliament to overrule the government is an important one, and should be used in national crises, or when the government is clearly over-reaching itself. But this is not that. It is a matter of HUGE regret to me that we voted to leave the EU, but that is what we did. The legitimate argument of the government is that they are obliged to implement that decision. Parliament has interposed itself and has prevented this, not by reining in a rogue government, but by stopping the government from doing anything.
As an executive, parliament has shown itself to be completely incapable. It has demonstrated by a series of votes that there is NO solution that it can possibly decide on. Not a hard Brexit, not a negotiated settlement with the EU, not a revocation of Article 50, and not any possible point in between. Therefore, because of its power to block the executive, it has created a crisis. Intransigence on all sides, a complete inability to comprehend the idea of compromise, has left us with no body whatsoever that conceivably make a decision. Therefore we will get what is left. We have surrendered all control of the situation.
There is only one way out of this, and that is a completely fresh start – a General Election fought on clear lines as far as Brexit is concerned. The government we get from that election MUST be allowed to execute the mandate it is given, whether that is Brexit or not. And beyond that, we need a constitutional settlement that makes the separation of powers crystal clear.
Had parliament been able to find a position on which it agreed, we would not have this crisis. Once it became clear that this was not possible, it was parliament’s duty to step away. Poor choices by an executive government are not ideal, but we have a chance to get rid of them every five years. A fractured and ideological parliament, on the other hand, is beyond our ability to control.
“Had parliament been able to find a position on which it agreed, we would not have this crisis.”
How could it when leavers couldn’t find an option they didn’t disagree violently onamong themselves? This all goes back to the wording in 2016 and the freedom the Leave campaign were given to present whatever form of leave was expedient for the situation. Now they’re trying to square their circle by telling people they voted for no deal all along.
Can’t make today but bought train tickets for Tuesday the day parliament is currently meant to return.
Or indeed when remainers couldn’t find an option they agreed on either. If there had been a majority in parliament for remain, it would have won a vote.
My point is that once this option failed, it was incumbent on both leavers and remainers to work towards the centre. But neither side left the trenches, so no compromise was possible.
Leaving the EU will be bad. A hard Brexit will be a disaster. When you can’t have what you want, it is political childishness to follow a course of action that has as an outcome only the one you dislike most.
A quick question (and bear in mind that I agree with the protesters today):
Given that this is a protest aimed at shoring up the sovereignty of parliament, and given that parliament has voted against revoking Article 50, does everyone there agree that Article 50 should NOT be revoked, this being the express will of parliament?
Not sure what you’re asking. No one has suggested revoking article 50 without a parliamentary vote. Are you suggesting that parliament should not be allowed to vote again on it, now the choice between that and no deal is starker? It might come to that , and it’s not ideal,which is a reason why I’ve been in favour of asking again if this is what people actually want, especially given that it was not an option presented by the campaign.
Was there really any middle ground after May said Brexit meant Brexit, declared her undemocratic red lines, embraced the ERG and courted the thuggish right-wing press?Her deal only looks like a compromise now; it was always pretty hard,and ruled out EU ties that campaigners had actually promised to retain.
Sorry, I haven’t been very clear. In the votes held in the commons, every single option put forward was defeated. This was despite them being all the way across the board from hard leave to stay. The vote for Revocation of Article 50, put forward by Joanna Cherry, was defeated with a majority of 109. A second vote on the same subject was defeated with a majority of 101.
Of the entire spectrum of options, the closest to winning was Ken Clarke’s customs union option (defeated by 6 and then by 3).
This suggests very strongly that it is the will of parliament that we leave the EU, albeit with very close ties being kept in place. Defeats by over a hundred votes are pretty conclusive. I would also point out that the option of a hard Brexit was defeated by over 200 votes. So these two options – hard Brexit or remain – can only be valid as options if one is prepared to ignore parliament.
It would appear that Boris is prepared to do this. Today’s protest rejects that, but it is only coherent (on its own terms) if it equally rejects the idea of remaining in the EU. That is my position – that it is wrong for the PM to overrule the expressed will of parliament, and hence both the hard Brexit option and the remain in the EU option are an abuse of power.
I should point out also that since those indicative votes, since the parliament decided they could very nearly accept a customs union, both the remain and the hard leave sides have retreated to the trenches. I kind-of understand this from the brexiteers – the customs union is anathema to them. But for the remainers, it seemed to be the best hope of managing the process. Yet the SNP, for example, abstained en masse from this vote.
I get that the SNP has their own game to play, and that to some extent creating a chaotic Brexit might suit their goal. But that is a low trick, if that is their rationale. Five LibDems also abstained – that is harder to understand.
The main cause of the mess we are currently in was the referendum, of course. But since then, the entrenched position of hard-line remainers has successively obliterated all possible compromises, even the one put forward by Ken Clarke. I despair of this more than anything. Remain is the rational, level-headed choice, so why are its supporters mirroring the Rees-Mogg approach?
“especially given that it was not an option presented by the campaign.”
Just to clarify, I mean no deal wasn’t presented as an option.
Still not sure. Whatever comes out, no deal ,deal, revoke, referendum it shouldn’t happen without a vote. It’s because they can’t agree that many who vehemently opposed a referendum now see it as the only democratic way out.
It’s odd that you’re now using evidence of some MPs trying to find a way to implement the vote e.g. by voting for a deal they didn’t like , when you’d previously had criticised them for failing to find one.
All this ignores the fact that the vote in question was so fraudulent , only its advisory nature stops it being declared null and void. If people who heard this had exposed it more, we wouldn’t be in the mess of trying to implement an illegitimate farce in the name of democracy.
Do you mean a vote in parliament?
Then it would fail, irrespective of the motion. This has been proved by the previous votes.
This seems to me to be the biggest problem we have – that the result of the referendum is rejected by many people. Yes, it was built on lies. Yes, it was never fully explained. Yes, the method of leaving was never investigated. But with all this, it is still a vote. Everybody who wanted to vote was allowed to vote, and nobody was forced to vote against their will. They might have been misled (I will say they were wrong), but they voted.
Yesterday a YouGov poll was published which had the Tories on 34%, a lead over Labour of 12 points. Boris gets 40% of the Who Would You Prefer as Prime Minister poll. A Kantar poll from 19 August on how people would vote in a new referendum has Remain on 36%, Leave on 35%, and Don’t Know on 29%. Just think about that – we’ve heard nothing else for two years, we know that the Leave campaign flat-out lied, we have a Hard Brexit just round the corner – and 29% of people STILL DON’T KNOW!
Democracy is a deeply flawed institution, but overriding it, no matter how reasonable or laudable the reason, is a seriously dangerous step.
Not necessarily. It’s never been a clear choice between no deal and referendum/ revoke before. HMG don’t seem as convinced as you.
“We must support illegality in the name of democracy. ” Basically that’s what you’ve said begore goong on to talk about dangerous steps.
” Deal” in 2nd paragraph should read “outcome.” There’s no doubt some MPs reigned in their support for a referendum/ revocation for fear of the consequences.
As I suspect you know, your poll is an outlier. Most are putting it near 45/ 55 with fewer don’t knows.
You are not just wanting to abide by the 16 vote;you’re holding it up as a beacon of democracy, sacrosanct, untouchable, to be adhered to come what may. It clearly is no beacon. Even shown in its least worst light, it does not justify leaping off a cliff edge in order to say it was enacted.